"We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works." -Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
My, what a mad, mad world we live in. And what an exciting month has passed for us since issue 28 hit the shelves. Mighty No. 9 has been taking up the bulk of my whimsical free time, as I constantly check to see how the Kickstarter drive is doing. It hit $2.2 million most recently, meaning I'll get to play it on my Xbox 360, which is only a year old and has plenty of miles left on it. But I digress: Perhaps I'll do a "Blue Ink Commentary" about Beck sometime soon. For now, we have other priorities... such as the followup to issue 28's WHAM episode.
Previously, we found ourselves tossed back into the battle royale between Mega Man and Break Man as they dueled atop the skyviews of Mega City. And then, down in the Lanfront Ruins of South America, Wily had to go and spoil the climactic moment of Roll getting shot by her older brother with that whole Ra Moon turning on him thing... and launching the planet-wide electro-magnetic pulse. Blues was immune to it by virtue of being retrofitted by Dr. Wily, so he got a firsthand look at the chaos that resulted from it. Happy birthday, Mega Man. People dying, children crying, on your birthday.
Mega Man comes to floating in a giant tube of blue spoo goo, with two weeks of time missing according to his internal clock. More importantly, he's in a strange place with a strange one-armed man and a Robot Master he's never seen before in his life. And then he remembers that just before everything tasted like coconut, he'd been holding a dying Roll in his arms. It takes Light a few pages to get Mega Man up to speed on current events, including introductions.
Meet Dr. Pedro Astil (Pastil, or Pastel, referring to flowers, har), our newest comic-based NPC. This Curt Connors derivative is the creator of Plant Man, a Robot Master who won't play a starring role until the sixth robot rebellion under Mr. X, but we learn here that because of his unique robo-biology, he's still online. Ah, Dr. Light, just how many old friends do you have lined up in the wings waiting to save your ass? The answer is, of course, as many as he needs to keep things moving along.
Dr. Astil then spins a manly yarn about the emergence of the Lanfront Ruins some time back, and how he was part of the United Nations expedition to investigate it. He came out with his right arm missing. Grimly, he tells Rock, a lot of people didn't come back at all, which was why the U.N. put up that security cordon around the site. And in spite of his arguments, nobody ever took a closer look at it. For shame.
Whatever's happening around the world, the Lanfront Ruins are the origin site of the strange electromagnetic wave. The only reason that Rock's able to function is because he was dipped in the protective goop which Dr. Light and Dr. Astil made. That's right, Mega Man. It's seeping into your pores. So where did they get the inspiration to develop the anti-radiation spoo?
It seems that poor Blues had one moment of slight redemption. As he lingered in the wreckage of chaos that he helped to create, he had a very tense moment of interaction with his creator, and he passed along a flash drive with some vital data... presumably, it talked about the "immunization" upgrade which Wily gave him so Ra Moon couldn't shut him off. And given the lack of resources Light was working with, two weeks is a rather incredible timeframe.
There's a downside to the blue goo, though. The protective coating doesn't last forever, and there's only so much of it to go around. Worst of all for Mega Man, his sister's too badly damaged for the goo to be of any help at all. Until the strange, planet-wide EMP wave is stopped, she's on life support inside a capsule. A strike mission on the Lanfront Ruins is seen as the only viable solution to the ongoing problems facing the world, but it'd be suicide for Mega Man to go alone. Of course, there's also the problem of how he's getting there, considering that the warp network's basically shot to heck. Thankfully, we have solutions for that too.
While the entire force of Elec Man and the Sunshine Seven aren't available to help out, a sizable portion of the team is on site. Bomb Man, Guts Man, and Cut Man were on hand for Mega Man's birthday ceremony and got involved in the scuffle against Break Man, and they didn't get banged up too badly. They're prime candidates for the goo immersion procedure, and are quickly made ready for combat. When you can't have Elec Man, the Wreckers aren't a bad tradeoff (and yes, I'm aware that there's a group of Transformers who use that name already). Dr. Light is the sort of man who doesn't throw anything away, and his packrat nature provides the answer to the means of getting to South America: An old hobby project plane of his which is so out of date that the EMP wave didn't hurt it one bit. So, Mega Man has the tools, and he has the talent. It's Miller time!
But wait... what about Break Man?
Those two weeks between issue 28 and now haven't exactly been a picnic for our scarf-wearing buddy, either. It's been a long journey back to Lanfront for him, managing short teleport jumps when the network is up, and walking the rest of the way. As soon as he touches down inside the ruins, he gets jumped by Ra Moon. Wily gets him to make a break for it, and Blues holes up in the tiny shack of a room Wily's been stuck inside. Poor Wily is usually a little out of sorts, but he's delved into a new level of craziness, even for him. He's been working on a new robot called Ra Thor as a means of defense against Ra Moon, but it's doubtful the thing will be up and running anytime soon. Paranoia can get the best of a brilliant but misguided scientist when you're stuck in the dark with nobody to talk to and a malevolent machine sitting a few rooms away wanting nothing more than to kill you. I almost feel sorry for the guy.
Well, for two seconds, maybe. As Blues angrily remarks, "what did you do?!" Because in the end, it's all Wily's fault. It's always Wily's fault. Even when he's not the end villain in a game, it's his fault. And who always ends up cleaning the mess?
Very true, Cut Man. Wily can't pop up any nasty surprises. Ra Moon took all his nasty surprises and procured a robot army to do the surprising. Proving the utter versatility and devastating power of the Metal Blade, Metal Man brings the iron bird Mega Man and the Wreckers were using to the ground with extreme prejudice. As soon as they hop out of the wreckage, they get jumped by the Robot Masters that Wily used in the second robot rebellion. Mega Man bemoans not keeping their weapon data in his Variable Weapons System, but he has something he didn't have the last time: Chopper backup.
Game on, Mega Man. Let's see if you have what it takes to lead a strike team to victory in Injun country.
Super Adventure Rockman is one of those wild, off-the-wall titles made during the PlayStation heyday of the Blue Bomber. It came out around the same time as Mega Man 8-- that is, his 10th anniversary, but it was never released to the western market. Like The Power Fighters and Battle & Chase (those two later showed up in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection and Mega Man X Collection, respectively, if you weren't lucky enough to play the first in arcades), it was something which North American fans couldn't get their hands on. It had an aura of mystery about it, as all elusive and obscure titles carry. You think to yourself, "ooh, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 for the NES? They made a sequel? WOW!" And you get all excited about it... until you try it.
Thankfully, the advent of YouTube has made all things possible, so if you get bored, you can actually go look for Super Adventure Rockman and watch some guy do a merciless speedrun of it. I ended up doing that last week in a moment of weakness, and I can spare you the trip: Meh.
But these aren't the games, boys and girls. This is the comic series, and if there's one thing that the crew of Flynn, Spaz, Jamps, and the rest have established in the two years they've been doing these, Mega Man is a series rich in source material... with lots of room for expansion. And expand they have: The Archie team have time and again breathed life into the world that Mega Man lives in, given him ground to stand on, and an imperfect yet hopeful reality to fight for. Once again, they do the same here.
Super Adventure Rockman is a game you can take or leave; if you're a collector, you want it, need it, gotta catch 'em all. If you're the average fan, you'd be better off putting your money somewhere else. The game is something that even the Capcom people try to forget about. What is happening here in the comics is all sorts of fun. An ancient evil. An uncharacteristic villain. A desperate fight to save the world. Everything you need for a good four-issue storyline, and the fun's just getting started.
I shall wait eagerly, and with an open heart, to see what the team at Archie has planned. Will Break Man join Mega Man in stopping the threat of Ra Moon? Will Wily finish Ra Thor, only to have it also be turned against him? Is victory really assured, or will it come at a price? A good comic book makes you want to come back for more. A great comic book does that, and also leaves you plenty to think about. The theme of this story was our reliance on technology, and how terribly its absence would affect us. Pretty badly, it seems.
Make no mistake, this is a great comic book, and it's getting better all the time. So until the next issue swings around, revel in it... and then go pledge towards Mighty No. 9. I have, and I'll be tossing another $100 their direction before the drive finishes. It's a wonderful idea worth seeing carried out to its maximum potential, and it needs all the help it can to get there. Once upon a time, Keiji Inafune and the Mega Man team had another wonderful idea they fought tooth and nail to create.
It was called Mega Man 2.
For the Blue Ink.
When he isn't writing "The Blue Ink" reviews for The Mega Man Network, Erico (The Super Bard) spends his days keeping track of the "Legacy of Metal" fanon, dabbling in cooking and tea-brewing, and exploring the human condition from his Iowa stomping grounds.
The views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mega Man Network.